Tag Archives: pregnancy

10 Things I Learned in 10 Weeks of Motherhood

22 Nov

10weeks

My beautiful baby Tessa turned 10 weeks old on Tuesday! I really, truly, have no idea how time has passed so quickly. How did time creep by so slowly when she was in my tummy and I was anxiously awaiting her… and now 10 weeks have passed in the blink of an eye? You need proof that time is relative? Get a baby in your arms and watch seconds melt into weeks.

Being a mommy is everything I’d dreamt it would be, and more. The only thing lacking from my visions of mommyhood?

I don’t feel like crap. I feel great.

Hearing the horror stories and warnings in pregnancy and mothering books had got me all prepped for sleepless nights and a dirty house and stress and loss of freedom and no more home cooked meals and no more showers and so on and so on.

Yes, I’ve been tired. Yes, I did get a few weeks of the baby blues (which I mostly took out on my husband… sorry honey!) And yes, I’ve gotten a little overwhelmed with mounting chores and housework, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t cave and order a pizza now and then and I do now shower like I’m in some kind of speed bathing competition in case the baby wakes. But it’s not “bad” or “hard”. At least not hard in the conventional sense.

As I reread the warnings and cautions found in basic “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” type books, I think I’m starting to see a couple of areas where some new mommies sometimes go “wrong”, in my opinion. As my husband likes to say, “Opinions are like a$$holes, everyone’s got one and they all stink.” So if you think I’m way off track, you might be right, who knows? I’m just speaking from my own experience. I know I’m a new mother, and I’m very new to all of this, but my 10 weeks with Tessa have made me realize what works best for me as a mom.

Maybe I have an amazing, easygoing, textbook perfect baby. Or maybe I’m on to something. Maybe it’s a little bit of both? (Probably.) But regardless, I’d like to share with any other mommies out there the ten things I’ve learned that has helped me in my first ten weeks as a mommy:

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This article needed an imagery break. So I present to you: The many faces of baby Tessa!

1. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers.

This is probably going to piss some people off when I say this, but I firmly believe that the widespread insistence that having children means you automatically inherit a messy house and a lack of home cooked meals is just an excuse for laziness. Now I understand that once a child (or two, or three, or four) are walking and getting into everything and being tiny little maniacs, order and cleanliness get hard. And I think “clean” clutter and mayhem in an environment can be HEALTHY and in some cases NECESSARY for a child. I plan on having my home being a delightful jumble of homeschool projects splattered all over the place.

But I think too many people propagate the myth that having children means there must therefore be a departure from domestic duties. In other words, too many women nowadays are using their children as an excuse for their slovenliness, in my opinion. And to excuse their messy house and chronic fast food meals, they ferociously stand by the ideal that children are to blame and “it will happen to you too”.

Maybe I’m just blessed to know a lot of awesome moms who can raise happy healthy kids AND cook and clean too (and teach their children to join in the housework!) or maybe I’m just stubborn, but I refused to believe this from the start. Entering motherhood with the attitude that I can be a mommy and maintain a house as part of my daily duties has helped enable me to do so. So when the going gets tough, I don’t just cop out. And I’ve spent every day since Tessa’s birth sticking by my duties as a stay at home housewife with an “I can do this” attitude.

Yeah, it’s somewhat harder to accomplish housework and social obligations and recreational time with a baby, and I’m sure it’ll be much harder when she’s toddling around and eventually running all over the place. To get chores done or run errands or even meet with friends I have to plan my day now, and work around her naps or carry her in the ring sling while I work and play. But maintaining the house and living my life while still giving Tessa my all as a mother is do-able. And if it’s ever not, this brings me to the second thing I’ve learned…

2. Take all the help you can get.

When I came home from the hospital, my in-laws were visiting from Washington State. When the dog needed walking, or a prescription for that sweet, sweet miracle of Tylenol-3 needed picking up or if mommy needed a nap, the in-laws would walk the dog, pick up the prescription or watch Tessa. My husband made a point (and still does) of taking care of as many dirty diapers and bottle feedings as he can when he’s home, to give me a break.

After the in-laws left, my parents came to visit, and the baby watching and chore helping happened all over again. As a result, I was one of the most well-rested, bright-eyed new mommies you’ve probably ever seen. I’d have had a spring in my step right out of the hospital if it weren’t for that damn perineal tear. Whenever people were amazed I was “so awake” or “out and about so early”, I thought I was just one tough cookie. A champ if you will.

Then the in-laws and parents went home and Jonathan’s paternity leave went away and he went back to work, and I realized, HOLY CRAP caring for an infant solo is no walk in the park! While I CAN take care of Tessa alone, it is far better for myself and by extension far better for her if I take all the help I can get.

So I’ve made a point of swallowing my pride (like a little kid trying to assert her independence, I still have a tendency to shout, “I can do all by self!” and try to take the reins on… well… everything) and now I ask for help when I need it. While I am lucky to have family and a husband that can and want to be involved in carrying the blessed and beautiful burden of raising a baby girl, I am convinced that if ever I can’t turn to them for help, I will – for my sake and for my daughters – find a network of people who can.

Most churches have mommy’s night out daycare nights. There are tons of friendly mom groups out and about in the community – from Crunchy Moms to Military Moms to Christian Moms – that are an amazing resource for babysitting co-ops, housework swapping or simply available as a shoulder to cry on. Not to mention lots of babysitters aren’t opposed to an extra few bucks for doing housework.

Just don’t be afraid to ask for a hand. I would not think being a mommy was such a walk in the park if I’d had to go through the baby blues alone.

3. Know what kind of a mother you want to be.

Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Any business, corporation, heck even student clubs in elementary school campuses have a mission statement. It you know what kind of a mother you want to be, and what you expect to accomplish by your children, it will steer you in the right direction when the waters get choppy. I am convinced that clarity of vision and focus will get you through the darkest of hours.

I wrote a Mission Statement on Motherhood last Mothers Day, when Tessa was still just a wiggle in my belly. Jonathan and I were in Washington State visiting his parents before he left for Navy Boot Camp, and we were staying at a cabin in the gorgeous Olympic Peninsula. Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of God’s creation (and the location of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, haha) I spent a weekend just pondering what being a mother meant to me. And then I put it down in writing.

By charting out my course beforehand, I don’t feel so overwhelmed now. I don’t suffer the nagging doubt that I’ve heard so many fellow moms confess to: Doubt in their ability to be a good mom. Fears that their children won’t love them. Fears that they’ll “mess up” their upbringing or won’t be good enough.

When I look at my “Motherhood Mission Statement” I know that as long as I stay true to those principals, as long as I give my all in those areas and commit to staying true to my ideals, I will be the best mother that I can be. Even when I’ve fumbled in areas, I have no regrets over the past 10 weeks because I have kept my eye on my goals as a mother and have given Tessa my 110%.

I am convinced that more moms wouldn’t feel so lost or confused or doubtful if they simply determined beforehand what kind of mother they will daily strive to be.

4. Know that you are an imperfect person.

While we strive for perfection as mothers, the simple fact is, there are no perfect people on this planet. (Well, there was this one guy, once…)

Having a Motherhood Mission Statement is vital, but we must also realize that there is no such thing as a Supermom. We can’t do it all. And sometimes, even when we have the help of friends and family, it’s still not enough to feel “on top of it all”. And that’s okay. You are not perfect.

That doesn’t mean that you are valueless. You are loved by God. You are unique and you are indispensable to your child. But knowing that you aren’t perfect and that you can never be perfect gives you the freedom to try your best and accept grace when your best doesn’t seem to be enough.

The thing is, you WILL fall down as a parent. You WILL drop the ball and make some mistakes. But you just need to get back up and keep trying. Because your baby is worth it and your all is all that she needs.

Resting firmly in the knowledge of that fact makes my “failures” seem like learning curves and not an assault on my qualifications for motherhood. God gave me this child for a reason, and as long as I keep trying and keep moving forward (to quote that amazing Disney motto in Meet the Robinsons) I will do right by her when I give her back to God. So when I am too busy to water the plants or take the trash out, or so tired I change the litter box but put the lid on wrong so that the cats end up pooping all over the floor (sigh), it’s not a huge issue. I’ll plan better next time and I’ll do this next little thing I’ve learned…

5. Laugh at everything.

Laughter really is good medicine. When you’ve got a tiny little human on your hands, nothing is in your control anymore. Things are gonna get pooped on, peed on, spit up on.

So just laugh! Here are some benefits of laughter that I totally didn’t just steal from this website:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

So laugh! But even better than laughter…

6. Give everything to God.

Pray about every little thing. The good, the bad, the funky. I started praying for Tessa when she still in the womb (and before she was even conceived, truth be told) and I blogged earlier about Praying Through Your Pregnancy. While it’s important to cover your child in prayer, the benefits for you are impossible to exaggerate.

Can you think of any greater honor than to have an audience with the One who rules over ALL creation? We have been invited to talk with the one who put the stars in place. We are invited to seek counsel from the One who is truth and wisdom. We are invited to sit down with the One who knows all things.

And prayer makes a difference! Circumstances change when people pray. Diseases are sometimes healed, strength is imparted, guidance is given, hearts are softened, needs are met. I know that when I pray for others it helps them. But I also know that when I pray, I am changed. Into a better person, a better wife and a better mother to my little Tessa.

7. Don’t stop doing what makes you happy.

This was a BIG point that Jonathan and I heard a lot when we found out we were expecting. “You won’t be able to cosplay anymore once you have children.” “Eat up now while you can, you won’t be cooking anymore gourmet meals with a baby.” “Your poor cats, you won’t have time to play with them once Tessa is born.”

I will admit, I actually feared that these statements would be true. Like some inexplicable and irreversible virus in a zombie apocalypse flick, I feared that the infection of becoming a mother would render me hobby-less and passion-less for my personal pursuits, completely outside of my will. It was the thought of losing myself that scared me the most.

Because while my baby girl is my little baby world, I am not my child. If I find my identity in her and her alone, I am not living my life the way God intended. While my priorities have undoubtedly changed, I still think it is important – if not vital – to pursue you personal interests. From personal observation, the healthiest and most emotionally adjusted mothers I know take time to pursue interests, foster friendships, and make time for the things in their lives that bring them joy – both with and without their kids. So Jonathan and I are both making a point of taking time for the things we liked to do as a couple before we became three.

Again, it’s harder to, say, try out that new recipe in my New Orleans cookbook with a baby in tow, but it’s not impossible. It brings me joy, therefore I will make time for it and plan for it, even if it means hours of prep time between naps and feedings.

Just don’t lose yourself. Keep growing and cultivating who you are.

8. Don’t neglect your marriage.

Your baby needs two loving, devoted, madly and passionately in love parents. So flirt like a sexually frustrated pubescent teenager and indulge in some cheese-ball level romantics with your honey.

Find time for intimacy, in any and every way. After Tessa made her grand debut via vaginal birth, I couldn’t have The Sex for about 6 weeks post-partum, so Jonathan and I made a point of giving each other massages, making our own aromatherapy massage oil concoctions. (I don’t know what was sexier, playing mad scientist with tiny vials of smell pretties with my husband, or massages by the fireplace.)

While we aren’t alone anymore, we’re making a point of becoming closer than ever. We take our baby into the tub with us and have long talks about our hopes and dreams for her future. We watch Muppets Tonight reruns while hugging her between us. Just gazing down at a sleeping Tessa is one of the most romantic things we’ve ever done.

Keep the romance going. Your husband will be the one still by your side when your little baby is off making babies of her own someday.

9. Don’t neglect your friends.

In the same vein of people warning that we “won’t have time to pursue hobbies anymore”, we didn’t want to be the couple that neglected our friends once we had kids. We’re lucky because a combination of Jonathan working constantly and us being a country away from our friends and family has made it easy to neglect our friends out of necessity and not out of baby induced negligence. Haha!

But we have made a point to socialize with our little tot in tow. We attend community events from art walks, to book signings to anime conventions. We meet up with new friend at movie releases and church events.

No man is an island, and no family should be either. Get in the habit of fostering active friendships and maintaining relationships with loved ones. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s good for you emotionally and what’s good for you, makes you a better mother. (Plus, you’ve got a really frikkin’ cute baby to show off!)

10. Take time for yourself.

Last but not least, take time for yourself. When the baby is sleeping, give yourself a foot soak. Read a book. Watch some anime. Write a blog post. Go on a hike. Take a nap. But don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Your baby needs a healthy mommy. So make sure you meet your own needs. When you are well-rested you can enjoy every minute with your baby that much more!

WELL! Those are the ten things I’ve learned these past ten weeks. I think these points really are the “secret formula” to healthy and happy parenting. I’m sure I’m overlooking some other vital points. So help me out. What have YOU learned as mother? Let me know, I’d love to share trade secrets! ^_^

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Infant Male Circumcision: Unnecessary Child Abuse

29 Oct

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I would never even consider circumcision for my daughter Tessa. Why would I consider circumcision if I have a boy next?

The topic of infant male circumcision came up in conversation with a good friend a couple of days back. This is another one of the many issues that I am passionate about. Just call me an old-fashioned wahoo, but it pisses me the f*ck off when people needlessly hurt children – whether it’s savage dismemberment in the womb or barbaric genital mutilation shortly after birth.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people just go along with the cultural norms of the day unquestioningly, to the extent of binding little girl’s feet,  mutilating a girl’s clitoris and labia, or chopping off the most pleasurable part of a little boys penis. Unquestioningly. Unthinkingly. And all because society says it’s okay.

Once confronted with the facts of male circumcision, most women who ignorantly subjected their sons to this vile act get defensive and aggressive, born out of guilt. And a lot of guys, confronted with the injustice dealt them, get defensive and protective of their manhood and ferociously assert that they are “just fine”. (Despite the fact that 70% of their erogenous nerve endings on their sex organ is gone.)

The good news is, more and more men and women are waking up to the facts and choosing to NOT mutilate theirs son’s genitals for social conformity. To date, only about 30% of baby boys leave the hospital with butchered winkles. And the number is daily dwindling. By the time I have a boy, his generation will be overwhelmingly intact and the archaic parents who insist on perpetuating a sick tradition will have boys with partial penises wondering why THEY are different.

Since there’s tons of info that can and has been relayed, discussed and hammered out (there’s was a mini firestorm on my blog for posting the above meme, haha)) here are some circumcision memes I’ve found to enlighten and entertain. Enjoy. ^_^

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And this is just for giggles:

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Tessa Freeman’s Birth Story

14 Sep

Tessa Freeman’s Birth Story

I was checked into Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida to be induced on September 9. I was at 1 centimeter and 50% effaced. Tessa was snugly head down, having dropped almost two full weeks before.

My amniotic fluid was low and fluctuating wildly. I’d been leaking fluid and my placenta wasn’t being awesome. The doctors were pushing and offering induction at every checkup and ultrasound. I’d been declining since they released me from the hospital at 36 weeks. But a combination of the discomfort of Tessa pushing my hips apart, the uncertainty of her fluid levels keeping her safe and her moving in my belly less and less causing me to worry and stress over her health CONSTANTLY, prompted me to finally accept the induction at 38 ½ weeks. I felt a lot better with induction knowing that she was already considered full term, even without the steroids they’d put her on to mature her lungs a couple of weeks before.

So anyway, back to the 9th! They started me on Cervidil at 3:45pm. I sat in the hospital bed, watching Dodgeball on my laptop with my husband, letting my cervix marinate for four hours. At 7:45pm they checked me – dilated to 2 centimeters and 80% effaced. So in went another Cervidil. My husband and I tried to catch some sleep, which proved to be near impossible. If it wasn’t the staff coming in to check my vitals every half hour, it was me barely moving and bumping the fetal monitors hooked up to my belly and knocking them loose, causing alarms to sound and making some poor nurse have to rush in and fidget with them.

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At around midnight I was still at 2 centimeters, but was now 100% effaced. Another Cervidil was shoved into my lady parts. After another round of cervix checking and pill popping, my water broke. I had gotten up to use the restroom, and noticed that things were really… wet. I chalked it up to the pills being shoved up my hoohaw over the past 12 hours, and shrugged it off. But with my next cervix check, the nurse asked me, “When did your water break?!” Oh. So that’s what all that moisture was. When she moved her hand, I felt a warm gush. It felt like peeing in a pool. But, there was no pool. After that, I kept feeling small gushes of fluid with every little movement. I felt like I was gonna flood the whole room, but the nurse commented that it was a tiny amount of fluid in relation to a normal pregnancy. So at this point the nurse hooked Tessa up to a fetal monitor on her scalp – or tried to anyway, she had so much hair the monitor was having trouble sticking. So that was fun, having a mouth breathing nurse repeatedly shoving a hooked wire monitor up me till it stuck, as I was gushing fluid with every movement.

Once they had the wire strung up and attached to Tessa, they finally decided to start me on the Pitocin. This was around 6am on September 10th – with me being dilated to 3 centimeters and 100% effaced.

I was mentally preparing myself for the pain of a Pitocin induced labor. I’d heard all of the horror stories. I knew that my chances of having the epidural free, natural birth I’d been envisioning was a lot less likely to occur with Pitocin intensified labor contractions. While I kept telling myself that I could handle the pain and was emotionally psyching myself up for the approaching torture, I was irritated that I was strapped to a bed by two fetal monitors, an IV, a heart rate monitor, an arm cuff and a the scalp fetal monitor that they would not let me take off. I literally had six different cords strung from every angle of my body, limiting my movement – even my ability to roll over in bed. Everything I’d read about natural pain management during active labor included me NOT laying on my back, helpless and immobile. So I felt like my ability to cope with the pain was even more limited.

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Anyway, the nurses informed me that once the Pitocin was administered, I should expect a progress of roughly 1 centimeter per hour. But since I’d taken so long to get from 1 to 3, they kept warning that it would most likely take me longer than the average centimeter an hour rate. They wouldn’t make any promises or guesses regarding Tessa’s imminent debut, but I was led to understand that the time frame was most likely in the 1pm to 5pm range for her delivery.

Almost immediately after the first dose of Pitocin, I started noticing what felt like dull menstrual cramps. Not painful, but not comfortable either. The monitors were picking up regular contractions, but I wasn’t aware of anything I’d have recognized as a contraction. It was just…  aching. And it was slowly increasing, but still not registering on a pain level. My husband and mother in law hadn’t had anything to eat yet, so I insisted they go down and get breakfast at the cafeteria while they could. I decided I’d try to get some sleep and rest up, so I reclined my bed back for a quick nap as my hubby walked out the door.

I don’t know if it was the lack of distractions, or my reclining into a laying position or what, but suddenly I realized I could detect a rhythm to the “dull ache” in my lower stomach. And it was starting to hurt. So I started breathing through the cramps. Then the cramps were suddenly recognizable as contractions. And they were suddenly getting very very unpleasant. I was breathing through them, and forcing myself to keep my face stoic and grimace free, even though no one was in the room with me. I was very proud of myself. I got this! Then abruptly, the relaxing breaths were accompanied by grunts and whimpers, against my will. I glanced at my phone. I’d only sent the husband downstairs for food about 30 minutes ago. I didn’t want to call him back so soon, but the cramps were getting intense. It suddenly became very clear to me that I was having a baby. So I sent him a text, and Jonathan rushed back to my side and the hand holding labor officially began.

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Things get a little fuzzy after this point. I just remember it did not feel comfortable lying in bed. All I wanted to do was sit on the toilet. Whenever the contractions would roll around I’d bear down and leak fluid, and it felt uncomfortable soiling my bed with fluid and gunk and blood and God knows what else. So straining over the toilet just felt comfortable. And safe. But every time I’d get up and hide in the bathroom to wince over contractions – enjoying the freedom to spread my legs and lean over and alleviate some of the pressure in my hips – the hospital staff would hunt me down and demand that I get back into bed and hooked back up to the monitors.

So two hours into the contractions, as I found myself practically biting my pillow and audibly grunting, wincing and sobbing my way through what were becoming very frequent and mind numbingly intense contractions, I kept reasoning with myself: If you’re going to do this epidural free, you have to man up. You’ve only been at this for three hours. You’re only at a 5, if even that! The pain was threatening to become overwhelming, but at the moment the idea of an epidural was still terrifying to me and something I wanted to avoid at all costs. For those of you who don’t know, I am SO. SCARED. OF NEEDLES. Seriously. I actually set the heart rate monitor alarms off when they were administering my IV when I checked in. I freak the eff out when it comes to sharp pokey things. But even with my fear of an epidural, I was beginning to think that another two plus hours of these contractions would make me start to seriously reconsider a tube being strung into my spinal column.

I kept reminding myself that the pain I was currently feeling would pale in comparison to the pain that was to come later on in the day. By 9am my lower back started hurting SO BAD. All I wanted was for Jonathan to rub it. So he did. Then all of a sudden his touch was just shredding my nerves and his rubbing was torture. He had to stop touching my back or I’d explode. Then all I wanted was to sing worship songs. I kept trying to sing, “Better Is One Day” and “I Will Not Forget You”, but couldn’t remember the lyrics for the life of me. So I kept whimpering one line over and over and then demanded that my mother in law start looking up the lyrics online. So she did. But by the time she pulled up the music, singing and listening to music was the LAST thing I wanted. In fact, the music was chaos in my head. So I pleaded that she turn it off. Like, right now. Then it just seemed like there were so many people in the room. They just needed to all go away. But when my mother in law asked if I’d like her to leave I panicked. Don’t go! Why would you even suggest that?! Don’t leave me alone!

Jonathan tried to read me an article on “active labor” to encourage me that I was “there”, but it just pissed me off and made me snap, “I KNOW WHAT ACTIVE LABOR IS JONATHAN.” Then I made him rub my feet.

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Now, I’d been feeling pressure in my hips for weeks. And throughout my hospital stay the pressure continued to increase. It felt like I had to poop, constantly. Every ounce of my being wanted to just sit on the toilet in an exaggerated squat and strain with each contraction. In fact, I decided I had to do just that. Every natural birth book, article and mommy I’d talked to had stressed doing what feels natural. Trust your body. Do what it wants. And my body really wanted to go strain over the toilet. Pooping just sounded so magical in those moments. So, ignoring the nurses telling me I couldn’t go back to the bathroom anymore (I kept disconnecting the monitors and hiding in there), we waited for the coast to clear and then Jonathan helped me go sit at the only spot on the planet that promised me a shred of relief. As I sat on the toilet, pushing and gasping through waves of contractions, I asked Jonathan what time it was. A little past 9am. Oh God. I am in so much pain. I have to do this for 6 more hours?! And the pain is going to get worse?! How much longer could I go without an epidural? Maybe an hour? Possibly two?

Just then the nurse rushed into the bathroom. She took one look at me, got a very interesting look on her face and demanded that I stop pushing and get back into bed immediately. It wasn’t a suggestion. Did she not understand?! I needed to poop. I’d rather dooky myself now, on the toilet, than end up pooping up my bed during delivery. But she got me back on the bed, shoved her hand up me and then said, “Sweetheart, stop pushing. That’s not poop, that’s a baby. You’re at 9 centimeters. DO NOT PUSH TILL THE DOCTOR GETS HERE.”

After that, my memory gets REALLY muddled. I don’t remember a lot of things happening. Suddenly the room was full of people and I had my legs up in stirrups, with half the bed gone. I don’t remember any of that transition. Everyone was shouting at me to do things. I heard everything from push, grab your legs, breathe, don’t breathe, count, stop screaming… at one point I had to sob, “I don’t understand what you want me to do.” I could FEEL Tessa spreading me, trying to make her great escape and it hurt SO MUCH. I felt a sharp rip and realized I had just had a natural perineal tear. I’d never felt such pain in my life. I’d decide that I wouldn’t scream anymore, then I would hear myself screaming from a distance, like I was listening to someone else. I’d see an oxygen mask being placed over my mouth like I was watching a cheesy movie with a first person camera view of a mask being placed on someone.

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And then I’d have little lucid moments. Like at one point, Jonathan said, “Did you want to say your line?” One of our running jokes is that I would shout, “You did this to me!” at Jonathan while pushing Tessa out. So I whimpered / gasped out, “You did this to me!” It was pitiful, and nowhere near as funny of a moment as I’d imagined it would be. But I was still able to share inside jokes and silliness with my husband, even while in the midst of the most excruciating pain I’d ever experienced in my life.

Toward the end, things got intense, and I could sense a change in the atmosphere of the room. The doctor and staff got URGENT in their demands that I push. Apparently Tessa’s heart rate was not looking good. I kept locking onto Jonathan’s voice, telling me that I was so close, Tessa was almost there. Just one more push. On my final shove (they had to use a vacuum suction to help pull her out), I felt Tessa slip out, and they placed her on my stomach. All of a sudden there was a small child screaming on my tummy, with my husband holding her steady, with so much joy in his voice and face. I started sobbing uncontrollably from relief and joy and residual pain and probably just a dash of shock.

Then I heard the doctor urgently asking Jonathan to cut the cord. Jonathan started to protest, since we were hoping to do delayed cord clamping, but the doctor insisted Jonathan cut the cord NOW. Her little heart rate was putting the staff into emergency mode. Once the cord was cut she was rushed off into another room. Then the doctor got to work delivering the placenta, pushing excess fluid out of me and stitching me up. All very unpleasant and painful and gross. I kept straining to see my baby in the other room while wincing over stitches.

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The tone in the room lightened up. Tessa was fine, though it took a couple minutes for her heart rate to regulate. She was born at 9:34am, weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. Jonathan put her first diaper and outfit on. She was eventually returned to me and I was able to spend skin to skin time with my daughter, with my husband by my side, stroking and staring at our precious baby girl. She was calmly looking up at us, impossibly chill and relaxed, just watching us, nuzzling against my chest and being the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever seen.

She has the most expressive eyes. And the cutest little round face, with a tiny button nose and a perfect little cupid bow mouth. I feel like I’ve always known her. Words really cannot describe how this child makes me feel. Really, I’ve been tapping at this blog post ever since I got home from the hospital two days ago. I keep feeling like every attempt I make to put my emotions to words pales in comparison to what I actually feel. I am just so very very blessed.

I don’t really know how to wrap this birth story up. There are so many details and aspects of my hospital stay that I could go on and on about – and that I intend to in later blog posts. Like our amazing experience feeding Tessa at my breast, nursing her with donor breast milk with the Lact-Aid. And our first night sleeping with Tessa in the bassinet in our hospital room, emphatically refusing every offer from the nursery to take her for the night. And how every time Tessa would cry, Jonathan would lean over her, whispering love into her ear, and she’d quiet down immediately, listening to her poppa’s voice with raised eyebrows.

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As I write this, sitting in my nursing rocking chair in my bedroom with my laptop, my handsome husband is sitting on the bed with our cat Wraith on his legs and Tessa laying on his tummy, tucked under a fuzzy pink blanket sharing skin to skin time with her poppa, who keeps kissing her tiny head and asking me to, “Look at our little princess!” whenever she moves or yawns or sucks on her fingers in her sleep.

We are so blessed. Tessa isn’t even a week old and already I cannot fathom a life without this tiny princess in our home. Thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers during my pregnancy and delivery. Thank you to those who helped us obtain breast milk here in Pensacola so my daughter has not had to have a drop of formula since her birth. And thank you to those who have gathered milk and shipping funds to send Tessa more milk – including some colostrum heavy early milk – all the way from California. I am overwhelmed with the generosity, kindness and love that has been shown to me and my young family through every step of this pregnancy.

I don’t know what else to say, but thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone.

Breast Milk Donations for Baby Tessa!!

5 Sep

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I just updated my last blog post with this little blurb, but this warrants a whole new blog post / praise report:

I have received an AMAZING flood of responses from mommies literally worldwide offering love, support, prayers and resources in my quest for breast milk for Tessa! My blog post asking for donations got over 17,000 views in just 24 hours!!!! Friends and family back home in California are hard at work gathering / sending me a shipment of milk and I’ve also had a huge number of local Pensacola mommies offering milk donations and networking options to get me the milk I need for Tessa.

I picked up my first little batch of milk today from a sweet gal on the Navy base. And I was able to attend a Pensacola Le Leche League meeting this morning and met a ton of sweet moms who reached out to me on Wednesday during my frantic milk search. I’ve gone from feeling alone and friendless in a new place, to feeling welcomed with open am by an amazing community of breast feeding and crunchy moms that are treating me like family. It’s overwhelming! I don’t even know what to say!

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS REACHED OUT!!! I knew it before, but it’s undeniable now… breastfeeding mommies ROCK! As I’ve said in a previous post, it just floors me that this unborn baby that means the world to me, has other mommies out there who are caring for and looking out for her too! I’m beginning to realize what it means when people say that “things feel different once you’re a mother”. All these e-mails, calls, texts, messages and donations are not just an act of generosity to me, they are an act of kindness toward my DAUGHTER. I don’t know how to begin to thank all of you!

I haven’t been able to respond to too many people on my phone (my service has been so sketchy!) but I am finally back to the local Starbucks for Internet access (these guys must love me) so I will be getting to work responding to the messages I’ve received. THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE!! YOU HAVE BLESSED ME MORE THAN WORDS CAN EXPRESS!!!!

Looking For Breast Milk Donations For My Daughter

4 Sep

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EDIT! I have received an AMAZING flood of responses from mommies literally worldwide offering love, support, prayers and resources! I’ve also had a huge number of local Pensacola mommies offering milk donations and networking options to get me the milk I need for Tessa. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS REACHED OUT!!! I knew it before, but it’s undeniable now… breastfeeding mommies ROCK! As I’ve said in a previous post, it just floors me that this unborn baby that means the world to me, has other mommies out there who are caring for and looking out for her too! I’m beginning to realize what it means when people say that “things feel different once you’re a mother”. All these e-mails, calls, texts, messages and donations are not just an act of generosity to me, they are an act of kindness toward my DAUGHTER. I don’t know how to begin to thank all of you!

I haven’t been able to respond to too many people on my phone (my service has been so sketchy!) but I am finally back to the local Starbucks for Internet access (these guys must love me) so I will be getting to work responding to the messages I’ve received. THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE!! YOU HAVE BLESSED ME MORE THAN WORDS CAN EXPRESS!!!!

This is somewhat urgent. My friends freezer that contained my entire stash of donor breast milk was somehow unplugged and all of the milk has been spoiled. I am currently looking for breast milk donations for my daughter Tessa, who is due sometime in the next week or two.

I was born with tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition affects the ability of women to breastfeed because the milk glands usually do not develop enough to produce breast milk. After finding various (thankfully noncancerous) lumps in my breasts as a teenager, my doctor decided to remove them, and in the process perform reconstructive plastic surgery. Due to the hypoplasia in my breasts, I had excess fibrosis connective tissue, and so as the lumps were being removed via free nipple graft, they had to take far more tissue than at first anticipated. I ended up receiving a partial mastectomy, which removed my milk glands and damaged the nerves around my areola – sealing the deal that I would never be able to produce breast milk and breastfeed in the future.

As many of you know, this is my first child. I always planned to provide breast milk for my daughter via donors. With my history of asthma and allergies I knew breast would most certainly be best for Tessa. I planned to procure breast milk and feed her with the Lact-Aid nurser. Around the second trimester I began seeking breast milk donors and was lucky enough to find a sweet gal who donated on a weekly basis for MONTHS… even including the first weeks colostrum heavy milk from her newborn son. I moved to Pensacola, Florida from Hanford, California a few weeks ago to join my husband as he attends A School in the Navy.

The plan was to have my friend (who was storing the milk in her deep freezer) overnight the milk to me. I just learned today that the freezer somehow unplugged and that all of the milk is completely spoiled. I currently have no breast milk for my daughter. I’m devastated. And I am back to looking for donors.

I’m a bit frantic. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been crying like a baby all day long. Since we still don’t have internet in the new apartment I’m writing this from a Starbucks and crying at my laptop in public like a freak. I hate feeling so helpless, so inadequate, so unable to provide food for my baby. Knowing how important the nutrients breast milk provides is, I feel sick that I cannot produce this for my daughter, myself.

And I hate asking people for donations. As I said in a previous blog post – I don’t know how to go about broaching the subject to people who might be able to help. And I certainly didn’t anticipate how painful inadvertent questions, suggestions or inquiries would be on the topic of breastfeeding. “Are you planning to breastfeed?” “You really should consider breastfeeding, it’s so important for a baby.” “How long do you plan to breastfeed?” “Have you produced any milk yet?” I get ashamed, embarrassed and defensive all at once and then feel awkward and bumbling when it comes to asking for help or resources.

Anyway. I’m looking for donations. If anyone can help, please let me know. You can e-mail me at gingifreeman@gmail.com

I’m about to make the rounds online, trying to locate generous moms in the area that might be able to feed my little girl. Please keep me and Tessa in your prayers?

The Freeman Family In The Month of August

1 Sep

“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

Where to start with August?! Well, I haven’t had internet access at the apartment since moving to Pensacola, Florida, and I’m here at the local Starbucks once again leeching internet and trying not to feel guilty for buying yet another mocha. So! My month! I’ll start by filling in where my last blog post left off.

I am still pregnant. I have not had baby Tessa yet, despite the many close calls and declarations of induction at the hospital. Basically, my amniotic fluid was dangerously low and my placenta wasn’t showing a good exchange of nutrients to Tessa. So they wanted to induce. They hospitalized me and started me on steroids and everything. Then my fluids went up and they decided to wait on the induction. Worst lol/jk of my life. After psyching myself up for imminent pain and baby?! Ahhhhh!

Anyhoo, they released me from the hospital and put me on bed rest. Which I only partially adhered to. I mostly spent the next day rushing around doing all the things I thought I hadn’t had time to do. At my last check up (on Friday), my fluid had dipped back down, but overall Tessa’s levels looked good. They offered once again to schedule an induction and I declined. Then they released me on partial bed rest, with another two appointments scheduled right after Labor Day weekend to keep an eye on her fluid and that pesky placenta. They also prescribed me medicine to speed up Tessa’s lung and liver development in case of induction. Because the second my fluid dips down again she’s coming out. So, fun times!

In the meantime my mother-in-law Connie Jo is here from Washington State to help me around the house. She’s been walking the dog, doing my housework, and basically making sure I stay off my feet and drink lots of water and take my medicine. Connie and Jonathan are even making me take wheelchairs when I insist we go out and sightsee Pensacola and go grocery shopping. Ugh! I’ve never felt so gimpy in my life!

So that’s where I am NOW. This month has been the most action packed, change-filled month of the year, by far!

Here’s a fast recap of this month: My husband graduated from Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. Then he was sent to Pensacola, Florida for A School. Then I packed up our tiny apartment in Hanford, California and hopped in the car with my dad and my cats and my dog and drove the 2500mile cross country road trip to settle down here in Florida. Then it’s been a flurry of moving in, sightseeing, figuring out the area, plugging into the community and getting ready for Tessa’s imminent arrival. It’s been crazy, to say the very least.

While the hospital excursion was frightening, it’s been an amazing month! So much has happened so fast! I’m so thrilled to be near my husband again. I can’t wait for us to be a family of three, living under one roof! God really has been so good to us. We have been showered with blessings and I am amazed at where life has taken us. The Navy certainly didn’t lie when they said a career in the armed forces would be an adventure!

I can say with confidence that all of my fears and concerns and worries of the past few months have melted away. I’m just taking things one day at a time, waiting for our precious daughter to join us here on the outside world, and waiting to see where God takes us next!

Stuck In The Hospital Till Tessa Arrives

27 Aug

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My view for the next week. Or whenever. I don’t know.

I went in for my routine ultrasound, and then was told, “We’re admitting you to the hospital till your daughter is born.”

I’m not even going to begin to try to explain what the heck is going on. Mostly because I don’t really know much myself.

Tessa’s amniotic fluid is very low. She appears to be slightly anemic. Being isoimmunized, my blood is trying to attack Tessa as an intruder.

So they stuck me in a room, attached a bazillion cords to me and set a CONSTANTLY BEEPING AND INSANITY INDUCING monitor RIGHT NEXT TO MY FREAKING HEAD, and started Tessa on steroids to mature her lungs and liver and all that jazz.

The plan is to induce me in 48 hours or so. The nurse says her “gut feeling” is they’ll induce me on Friday and that “that’s when they usually do these things”. So who bloody knows?

I want a bottle of champagne so frikkin’ bad.

I am woefully unprepared for my three weeks early baby, and being stuck here in the hospital is not awesome. I have dishes in the sink, laundry that needs hung, my ferns need watered, I still have a checklist of things to buy and do before Tessa is born.

Not to mention my CATS. They are all home alone, and lonely. I mean, the husband is going to check on them right now. But if I’m here till Friday? They’re going to go stir crazy. Or feel abandoned. I’m stressing out so hard. (Not too worried about the dog, he’s happy all the time. It’s the cats that need appeased.)

I didn’t even get to start my hospital bag or finalize my birth plan.. and here I am stuck in the frikkin hospital.

As long as Tessa is safe I am happy. But dang. I’m trapped. I’m having the primal urge to gnaw off a limb and escape or something.

Maybe I’ll finally get to catch up on my blog posts, since I have been internet deprived all month? Maybe. Yeah. I’ll do that. Maybe,